This is one of the most frequently asked questions here at Cooley & Handy. The shortest answer is that the average divorce in Pennsylvania takes two years. The more optimistic answer is that it all depends on you and your spouse.
Theoretically, you could be divorced in just over three months if the matter is simple and you are both extremely motivated – and cooperative. In Pennsylvania, there is a 90-day waiting period after the filing of a divorce complaint before you can apply for a divorce decree. So if you:
- file a divorce complaint and serve it on your spouse on day one;
- both file Affidavits of Consent and Waivers of Notice on day 91;
- file a praecipe for a decree on day 92;
and if the court promptly issues your decree, you could conceivably be divorced in about three months.
You may be unaware how unlikely all of this is.
In reality, four months – with the full, determined cooperation of both spouses and the court – is the shortest length of time to get a divorce in Pennsylvania.
Cooley & Handy has noticed that one of the biggest complicating factors to an efficient divorce is the spousal relationship. Each argument, each disagreement, each petition filed out of anger will add weeks if not months to the length of your divorce. Here are additional factors that add more time:
- custody and custodial schedules;
- the division of assets and property, including appraisals;
- division of pensions, 401ks and retirement plans;
- the determination of support and alimony.
When you add it all up, it is easy to see how the average divorce can take up to two years to process. And as we said, that is simply the average.